Chileans run away from election duty

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The Independent Online
Chileans hid in bushes, climbed up poles, locked themselves in bathrooms, feigned illnesses and alleged they could not read or write to avoid being pressed into electoral inspection duties yesterday.

The mid-term legislative election was delayed in many of the 28,523 polling stations as authorities failed to find enough citizens willing to serve as inspectors. Officials said the difficulties were especially felt in Santiago, where media reported that people hid from soldiers guarding the polling stations.

Carlos Figueroa, the interior minister, who organised the election, was unable to cast his ballot because his polling station lacked the required number of inspectors.

Figueroa told reporters that electoral authorities would have to enforce a law which stipulates that the first three citizens who show up to vote must be appointed as inspectors, unless they have a valid reason not to.

Voting is mandatory for Chile's 8.6 million registered voters. Pollsters, however, have forecast that one-third of theelectorate could cast void ballots or not even bother to vote.

- Reuters, Santiago